Do you know what RPE is?
Rate of Perceived Exertion. It’s a number from 1 to 10. A scale that describes how hard a workout feels.
It is one way to gauge the difficulty of the physical task you’re trying to accomplish. It’s useful because it gives us a common language to talk about workouts. Without it, everyone would say things like “That was really hard” and it would mean something different for each person. Conversely, when you see a workout in your app or on a class whiteboard, a common language like RPE helps tell you what you should expect to feel on this workout.
Here’s the RPE scale for conditioning workouts:
|1||Very easy activity. Almost no effort required, one step above walking watching TV on your couch.|
|2-3||Easy activity. You can maintain a full conversation with easy breathing and feel like you can keep it up for hours. Think leisurely walk around the block.|
|4-5||Moderately easy activity. Some effort required, heart rate is slightly up and your breathing is starting to accelerate. But you can still hold a conversation. Think low intensity stationary bike while FaceTiming your friend.|
|6||Moderately difficult activity. Your breathing is accelerating and you’re breaking a sweat. You can hold a conversation but it takes effort and you have to break it up to catch your breath. The physical task requires focus. Think 3-5 mile jog.|
|7||Difficult activity. You can sneak a sentence here and there, but you’re generally breathing hard. Your heart rate is in the 120-150 range and you are sweating. Think Kettlebell Swing + Jump Rope + Burpees circuit for 15 mins.|
|8||Very hard. No talking possible, your breathing is fast and your heart rate is in the 150-180 range. You can only keep this up for a few minutes.|
|9||Extremely hard. No a word can be said, your heart rate is 185+ and you can only keep this up for 2 minutes or less.|
|10||Maximum effort. Can only be maintained for 30 seconds or less, and requires that you give it everything you have.|
What about lifting weights? The RPE scale applies!
|1||Very easy. Moving your body from one room to another.|
|2-3||Easy. Bodyweight warmup reps at slow speed.|
|4-5||Moderately easy. Warmup weights, can do 15+ reps and have plenty left in the tank.|
|6||Moderately difficult. Challenging yard work, lifting a weight for 10-12 reps and having 5+ reps left in the tank.|
|7||Difficult. You can still demonstrate speed and great form in your reps . Your last 2 reps slow down but you have a 3-4 reps left in the tank when you’re done.|
|8||Very difficult. You start to lose speed but your form is still good. You feel like you have a couple of reps left in the tank.|
|9||Extremely difficult. Your reps are slow and you are a little afraid you might not make the last 1-2 reps. But when you finish you feel like you have 1 rep left in you.|
|10||Max effort. Any set to failure – 1-rep max, or a 3-rep max or max reps at any load. The point is to feel like you had nothing left in you. Not a single extra rep.|
Now you can start to use this scale for your own training. Look for RPE suggestions in the workouts!